Here at Work In Startups, we’re on a mission to champion the best and most exciting startups in the UK. To support this, we’re starting a new blog series highlighting some of the most innovative and fast-growing startups around. Follow us as we interview startup founders and employees across the country and find out more about their goals and ambitions, what the future holds and (for all you startup jobseekers out there looking for the inside scoop) what they look for in a prospective employee.
This week we are interviewing Ben Goodey marketing lead at SentiSum an AI focused startup founded by Sharad Khandelwal.
Tell us about SentiSum! How did it all start and what are your goals?
SentiSum is an AI-powered platform that helps organization’s dig into their customer feedback data and understand the root cause of customer pain points.
We started in late 2016 when we realized brands are either not leveraging their customer feedback data or spending days/weeks manually sifting through the data to understand customer expectations and sentiment.
This led to Sharad, SentiSum’s founder, quitting his investment banking job and to build the first platform and AI models (leveraging his machine learning knowledge acquired at UCL and years of software engineering).
The power of the SentiSum platform is that it can consume high volumes of free-text data and makes sense of it. Whether an organization has 100,000 surveys field in a month or 1,000 customer support live chats, emails and social media messages a day, we can automatically uncover multi-level topics and the sentiment of each.
This is an exciting year for us at SentiSum, we’ve landed a few big size clients and lots of high-profile brands are responding well to the product. So, we’re accelerating our growth and making our name in the customer support analytics space.
What are your values as an ambitious startup?
We haven’t really done one of those official value statements yet, but we have a strong internal culture, so I’ll give you the top three.
- Self-responsibility: Everyone is trusted to do the thing they’re expert in, empowered to do it and given authority to make decisions. Furthermore, if you’re feel “bleh” you don’t need to make excuses, take the day off. We work hard, so we respect each other’s needs.
- Ambition: Everyone at SentiSum works very hard and I think it comes down to ambition. We all have a passion about our role, want to improve, learn and succeed, and SentiSum is our vehicle to do that.
- Be kind: We’re quite loving as a team. Birthdays, drinks, support when needed, and rewarding excellent work.
- Pursue happiness: It might be a bit cliché but I think there’s a clear ‘why’ behind building a successful company, and it’s to be able to be free and happy.
With your current knowledge and what you’ve learnt so far, is there any advice would you give yourself back when you were just getting started?
Invest in marketing early, a mistake most tech founders make and focus on proving value with customers instead of revenue.
What is next for SentiSum and what are the goals for 2021?
We have ambitious goals to be the category leader when it comes to CX insights and automation. 2021 will be all about laying the foundations for growth by investing in customer success, brand building and product innovation
The pandemic has obviously affected a lot of startups both in positive and negative ways, how have you guys dealt with it?
A few of our clients have been hit hard (we lost a couple who suddenly lost their budget). But others have needed our help more than ever. As the eComm space accelerated, so did their customer support ticket. Making sense of them has become a priority for growth and retention of users.
Internally, we’ve been lucky to raise a little money and responded by hiring a revenue-focused team and more NLP and AI expertise in-house.
Why is AI customer insights the next big thing?
Delivering outstanding customer service has never been more important. The likes of Amazon have set the bar high and customer expectations have met that. Understanding why a customer is unhappy as soon as possible, and correcting that mistake, is the future of proactive customer experience. AI enables us to do that automatically and at large volumes, so companies can make clear data-backed decisions.
As I mentioned in the last question, the shift to ecommerce has accelerated faster than ever recently. Every piece of friction in the customer journey reduces the conversion rate or creates churn to a competitor, so understanding this friction at a granular level has never been more important. Luckily for us, with the rise of new customer contact channels replacing phone calls, we have a ton of free text to analyse. Support ticket analytics across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and on-website chats has never been more important.